Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change recently said that zoos across India will be developed on a public-private partnership (PPP) model.
This is in tandem with the Central government seeking private funding to manage the animal parks.
In the future, a policy to upgrade zoos on a PPP model could be announced
Javedkar mentioned that a policy to upgrade 160 zoos on a PPP model would be announced in the next Union budget. State governments, civic bodies, businesses as well as private individuals would all be crucial elements of the PPP model.
The Central Zoo Authority (CZA), which oversees India’s zoological parks, has a budget of less than INR 12 crore. A CZA official reported that a small amount out of this is set aside for zoos.
The official said, “Zoos cannot be sustained on a shoestring budget. Out of the 160 zoos in the country, 10 have been selected for the vision plan. A private consultant is working on how they can be developed on a PPP model. We have a handful of private zoos and very few civic body and society-run zoos. It’s a new concept in India. The PPP model will follow the Finance Ministry’s rules. We are in talks with private partners.”
Javadekar has also released a study giving insights into the economic evaluation of the National Zoological Park in Delhi. The annual economic value of various ecosystem services in 2019-20 is estimated to be INR 422.76 crore. The study further showed that the one-time cost of services and land provided by the zoo is estimated to be INR 55,209.45 crore.
The CZA had ordered The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) to evaluate the services provided by the zoo. Almost 77 percent of the contribution comes from the recreational and cultural services of the zoo. On the other hand, education and research contributes only 9 percent to the total economic value.
The report added, “Every service is important, as it contributes towards the improvement of the local environment. Hence, it is necessary to ensure the proper maintenance of the zoo to improve its services.”
The zoo houses 73 Indian species and 26 exotic species of mammals, birds, and reptiles
Plans are underway to add other species of amphibians and insects.
According to the report, the number of tourists visiting the Delhi zoo has grown considerably over the years. In 2018-19, 19,568 and 2,692,730 foreign and domestic tourists respectively had visited the zoo. During this period, the zoo generated a total revenue of INR 10.09 crore.
Dipankar Ghose, director, wildlife and habitats, World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-India said, “Zoos have two roles, one for creating awareness about animals and the other, more scientific, ex-situ conservation, or actions taken involving removing the species from its natural habitat. Some animals in the zoo are endangered or vulnerable. But after testing their genetic profile, these animals can be reintroduced back in the wild. While doing so, appropriate national and international protocols will be followed. There are successful examples of zoos involved in ex-situ conservation. However, this can only be achieved if the natural habitats of the target species are intact and free from disturbances.”